Former Accident Compensation Corporation chairman John Judge replaced his home computer just days after an inquiry into the leak of a sensitive email was announced, an analysis of parliamentary answers shows.
The date the computer was replaced has become a key point of dispute between Mr Judge and ACC Minister Judith Collins.
Ms Collins has accused him of hampering an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner into how an email which identified Bronwyn Pullar as the woman at the centre of a huge ACC privacy breach was leaked to the Herald on Sunday.
This week, the minister told the Herald that Mr Judge replaced his home computer after the announcement in late March that the investigation would be held and it might involve computer forensic analysis.
In response, Mr Judge said Ms Collins' comments were "pathetic" and motivated by recent unfavourable media coverage of ACC.
He said the minister was aware that he replaced his home computer before the Privacy Commissioner's inquiry was announced.
"Everything was transferred from my old computer to the new one anyway. It's not like anything disappeared."
He said Ms Collins "knew the truth" and was "just trying to blacken people".
Mr Judge told the Herald he replaced his home computer on April 1.
Yesterday, Ms Collins reasserted her claim that Mr Judge replaced the machine after the inquiry was announced.
On March 28, she confirmed the investigation in answers to parliamentary questions. In these, she said the investigation "might well include some forensic investigation of computer records".
Yesterday, the minister said that the transcript of her answers "speaks for itself".
Repeated efforts by the Herald yesterday to contact Mr Judge were unsuccessful.
In her earlier criticism of Mr Judge, Ms Collins said he also arranged for a technician to wipe his ACC-provided iPad before it was returned to the corporation in June.
But Mr Judge pointed out he was not able to receive emails on his ACC iPad.
The identification of Ms Pullar prompted a source to give information to the Herald about a letter former ACC Minister Nick Smith wrote in support of her claim.
Dr Smith resigned his portfolios after the Herald confirmed the existence of thatletter.
Former National Party president Michelle Boag of Auckland, who wrote the email sent to Ms Collins, has denied leaking it and so has Ms Collins.
ACC chief executive Ralph Stewart and Mr Judge, to whom Ms Collins forwarded the email, have also denied leaking it.By Adam Bennett Email Adam